Title

Pathogens and the Placental Fortress: Microbes and the Maternofetal Barrier

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Current Opinions in Microbiology

ISSN

1879-0364

Volume

51

Issue

1

First Page

36

43

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Placental infections are major causes of maternal and fetal disease. This review introduces a new paradigm for placental infections based on current knowledge of placental defenses and how this barrier can be breached. Transmission of pathogens from mother to fetus can occur at two sites of direct contact between maternal cells and specialized fetal cells (trophoblasts) in the human placenta: firstly, maternal immune and endothelial cells juxtaposed to extravillous trophoblasts in the uterine implantation site and secondly, maternal blood surrounding the syncytiotrophoblast (SYN). Recent findings suggest that the primary vulnerability is in the implantation site. We explore evidence that the placental SYN evolved as a defense against pathogens, and that inflammation-mediated spontaneous abortion may benefit mother and pathogen.

Publication Information

Robbins, J. R., & Bakardjiev, A.I. (2012). Pathogens and the placental fortress: Microbes and the maternofetal barrier. Current Opinions in Microbiology, 51(1), 36-43.